202004.05
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COVID-19 & the NSW Courts

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the NSW Local and District Courts have taken serious measures to reduce the spread of the virus. If you have a matter in the District or Local Court, it can be a worrying and confusing time.

Update on COVID-19 & The Courts

On 7 May 2020, The Chief Magistrate issued a new memorandum outlining the preliminary arrangements for the return to normal sitting arrangements. This is a result of the ‘ongoing success of public health arrangements.’ The preliminary arrangements address two issues confronting the Local Court, the sentencing of offenders where the issue of full-time custody is a real prospect and the organisation of defended hearings.

Should I attend court in person?

You will not be required to attend Court in the current environment. We can advise you whether you are required to attend court.

A staged return to sentencing in matters considered to involve the likelihood of a full-time custodial outcome will commence.

From 18 May 2020 matters involving defendants on bail may be dealt with to finality at a number of Local Court locations where there is a co-location with the District Court.

City and Metropolitan Locations

Campbelltown
Downing Centre
Parramatta
Penrith

Regional Locations

Coffs Harbour
Dubbo
Newcastle
Port Macquarie
Tamworth
Wagga Wagga
Wollongong

At the locations listed above, matters listed during the week commencing 11 May 2020 should be adjourned to a date in June for finalisation

At locations which are not listed above, matters listed during the period 11 May to 29 May 2020 should be adjourned to a date in June for finalisation.

There are 2 cohorts pending before the Court.

One group “de listed” for the period 23 March 2020 to 4 May 2020 have been adjourned until August 2020.

The second group for the period 4 May – 31 July 2020 at this stage will be adjourned to September 2020.
People that are not involved in the legal proceedings, will not be able to attend court under any circumstances.

If you are told that you are required to attend court, you must not attend if you:

  • have travelled and returned from overseas in the past 14 days
  • have had contact with a diagnosed, suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • you are feeling unwell.

If any of the above apply to you, we can liaison with the Court to organise appropriate arrangements for you matter to proceed.

What can be dealt with over via email or in writing?

Due to not being able to attend, the Courts are allowing a lot more to be dealt with via email. These include things such as:

  • Entering pleas
  • Lodging bail applications
  • Seeking adjournments
  • Reply to briefs
  • Simple mentions

We at Fourtree Lawyers will work with you to obtain all the necessary information required to make sure that nothing is missing in the correspondence to the courts via electronic means.

What District Court matters will be adjourned?

On the 16 March 2020, any new jury trials were temporarily suspended.

How will bail be determined?

The measures that the Court has put in place open up a few issues when it comes to bail. All persons in custody will appear via audiovisual link in a centralised court. For the Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter Region, this is Newcastle Local Court.

Once the bail, whether granted or refused, has been dealt with, the matter will be adjourned to the Local Court where they would have otherwise been listed.

Bail applications in the District Court will now be dealt with by the Judge in their chambers. All conditions that are sought need to be sent to the prosecution before filing with the Court. Our expert criminal lawyers are able to organise this for you or a loved on that is in custody.

How are pleas to be entered?

Pleas are now entered electronically through the Court Registry. Here at Fourtree Lawyers, we will liaise with the Registry and the prosecution to make sure your matter is dealt with as soon as possible. For simple matters, we may be able to have your matter dealt with when a plea is entered.

What happens to people in custody?

All bail application will be made via audiovisual link due to the greater risk of COVID-19 spreading through prisons.

How are AVO’s being dealt with?

If you have an AVO hearing listed between 1 April 2020 and 1 May 2020, it will be adjourned. Where an ADVO has proceedings with a related CAN, proceedings will be adjourned to the same date as the CAN and continue to travel together as per usual practice. Where ADVO application is without a CAN, proceedings will be adjourned for mention for no less than 3 months.

However, provisional orders can still be made by the police. Amendments to the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 now allows the police to provide for provisional orders to be listed up to 6 months from the date the order is made.

Were here to help

Fourtree Lawyers can explain and guide you through this confusing and unprecedented time and work with you to minimise the legal ramifications of your offence.

Instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf will ensure you fully understand your position and your options and will assist you in getting the best possible results for your particular case.

Contact our Newcastle and Central Coast Lawyers on 1300 529 444 as soon as possible. The earlier we can start building a strong case for you, the higher your chance of getting a good outcome.

Joseph Gilbert
LLB(Hons)-BComm-GDLP
Lawyer

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Going to Court – what to do, say and wear

Do I need a criminal lawyer?

NSW Local Courts